Friday, June 22, 2012

US announces new border plan with Canada

US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano announced on 5 June the release of the DHS Northern Border Strategy (NBS). The NBS was created to guide the department's policies and operations concerning the US-Canada border.

DHS hopes the strategy will provide a framework for enhancing security while expediting lawful travel and trade throughout the the US and Canada border region. According to DHS officials, the NBS is the first Department-wide strategy to guide policy and operations at US-Canada border.

"The U.S.-Canada border is the world's longest common border. With communities and businesses that reach both sides of the border, the economies and security of the United States and Canada are inextricably linked," said Napolitano. "The Northern Border Strategy provides a unifying framework for the Department's work focused on enhancing the security and resiliency along our northern border while expediting legitimate travel and trade with Canada."

The NBS states three key goals for the US-Canada border:

  • Deterring and preventing terrorism and smuggling, trafficking, and illegal immigration;
  • Safeguarding and encouraging the efficient flow of lawful trade, travel, and immigration; and
  • Ensuring community stability before, during, and after terrorist attacks and other disasters.
DHS believes that they can have more expeditite security operations by separating higher-risk traffic from lower-risk traffic, utilizing advance information, and inspecting people and goods crossing the border at the earliest opportunity. The department said they will coordinate joint security efforts between the US and Canada in order to facilitate efficient travel and trade.

Not everyone is on board with this new plan. Critics claim that Napolitano may be attempting to divert attention from southern border with Mexico.

"[Secretary Napolitano] behaves as if she completed a successful operation at our Southwest border and is now turning her attention to our northern border. If anything, the situation at our border with Mexico is dire, to say the least," said Sergeant Paul Bellamy of the Danville, NY Police Department.

Global Visa Support offers a variety of programs in USA and Canada. Please check our USA and Canadian pages for more information: and

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Report claims British Columbia needs more skilled immigrants

A new government report says that the Canadian province, British Columbia, will need more skilled immigrants to fill skills shortages in the province. The Immigration Task Force (ITF) released their final report, confirming that British Columbia still needs more immigrants to fill skill shortages. The task force, appointed by Premier Christy Clark, was set up to review key government programs with the goal of increasing the number of skilled immigrants and investors in British Columbia.

Task force members held meetings and consultations with stakeholders across the province and came to the conclusion that if more skilled immigrants are not immediately brought into the province, businesses may have to close or relocate. This would result in fewer jobs and opportunities for people from British Columbia.

"Travelling across the province, hearing stories from a range of employers about the challenges they are facing filling jobs in all types of industries impressed upon the task force the immediate and overwhelming need to bring more skilled immigrants to B.C. through a more efficient and responsive system," said ITF Chair and Minister of State for Multiculturalism, John Yap.

The report mentioned 10 key recommendations for the province and the Canadian government. Some of the recommendations are as follows:
  • Immediately increase immigration levels for British Columbia
  • Grow and expand the British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program.
  • Ensure economic immigration program application processes and requirements are as straightforward and efficient as possible, and adjusting visa numbers accordingly to employer needs.
  • Capitalize on British Columbia as a destination of choice for entrepreneurs and investors.
  • Provide timely, effective information and support to newcomers and employers.
According to Pat Bell, Minister of Jobs, Tourism, and Innovation, British Columbia has already begun to take immediate action to fill job vacancies through the introduction of the Northeast Pilot Project. This will also expand the British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program to include more eligible occupations throughout the region.

"To sustain and create new jobs over the next decade we need more workers than British Columbia can supply. The recommendations in the ITF report point us in the right direction and give us the tools we need to achieve both our labour and economic goals. I'm proud that B.C. is taking this proactive approach to economic immigration," said Bell.

Global Visa Support offers a variety of programs in Canada. Please visit our Canadian page for more information:

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

UK immigration announces family migration route changes

On 11 June 2012 the UK government announced major changes to the Immigration Rules for non-European Economic Area (non-EEA) nationals applying to enter or remain in the UK under the family migration route.

Most of these changes will apply to new applicants from 9 July 2012.

The changes, part of the Government's response to recommendations made by the Migration Advisory Committee, include:

  • introducing a new minimum income threshold of £18,600 for sponsoring settlement in the UK of a non-EEA spouse or partner, fiancĂ©(e) or proposed civil partner. If you wish to sponsor a child you will have to meet the higher threshold of £22,400 instead of £18,600. Each additional child will cost £2,400 to sponsor.
  • publishing a list of factors associated with genuine and non-genuine relationships, to help UK Border Agency officers make accurate decisions.
  • extending the minimum probationary period for settlement for non-EEA spouses and partners from two years to five years, to test the genuineness of the relationship.
  • abolishing immediate settlement for migrant spouses and partners where a couple have been living together overseas for at least four years.
  • from October 2013, requiring all applicants for settlement to pass the Life in the UK Test and present an English language speaking and listening qualification at B1 level or above of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages unless they are exempt. Previously only those apply for citizenship had to meet these requirements.
  • allowing adult and elderly dependants to settle in the UK only where they can demonstrate that, as a result of age, illness or disability, they require a level of long-term personal care that can only be provided by a relative in the UK. Also requiring them to apply from overseas rather than switch in the UK from another category.
  • restricting family visit visa appeals, initially by narrowing the current definitions of family and sponsor for appeal purposes, and then, subject to the passage of the Crime and Courts Bill, removing the full right of appeal against refusal of a family visit visa.
However not everyone agrees with the new immigration changes. Senior Labour MP, Keith Vaz, said: "I am shocked at the Government's new proposal. They will dramatically affect my constituents, settled British Asians, not illegal immigrants, tax payers who contribute to our country. A British Home Secretary has no place dictating who British citizens should choose as their spouses based on an artificial financial limit. This is unfair, unjust and unnecessary."

Study Migrate offers a variety of programmes in United Kingdom. Please visit our UK page for more information:

Monday, June 18, 2012

Study Migrate: US H-1B visa cap reached

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that as of June 11, 2012, the cap of 65,000 H-1B visa petitions has been met for fiscal year (FY) 2013. In addition, the 20,000 petition cap for the advanced degree H-1B visa was met on June 7, 2012.

"June 11, 2012, was the final receipt date for new H-1B specialty occupation petitions requesting an employment start date in FY 2013," said USCIS in a press release.

USCIS said they will consider properly filed cases received on the date that USCIS physically receives the petition, not the date that the petition was postmarked. Obviously H-1B visa petitions must have been received before the visa cap was reached.

The H-1B visa program is popular among US businesses wishing to employ graduate level foreign workers in specialty occupations.

USCIS began accepting applications for the H-1B visa program on April 2, 2012 for positions with a start date of October 1, 2012 or later. Each year only 65,000 visas are available for regular H-1B visa cap petitions for graduate level foreign workers in professional or specialty occupation positions. Also, an additional 20,000 H-1B visa cap petitions visas are made available for those with an US Master degree or higher degree awarded at an US university.

There was an increased demand and a much higher rate of H-1B visa filings compared to last year. Although, the rate of filings was still quite low compared to 2008 when the H-1B visa cap was reached in the first week of the application season.

Global Visa Support offers a variety of programs in United States. Please check our USA page for more information:

Saturday, June 16, 2012

New figures show UK immigration still higher than government target

According to new figures, migration to the UK still remains at more than double the government's target; The intention was to reduce migration numbers to "tens of thousands" by 2015. In the year to last September, net migration, meaning the number of immigrants arriving in the UK to stay for more than a year minus those emigrating from the UK, was 252,000. This is only a decrease of 3,000 from the previous year.

There has only been a very small reduction in the number of people emigrating to the UK. The figures from the UK Office for National Statistics reveal that in the year to September 2011 the estimated total long-term immigration to the UK was 589,000, compared with 600,000 in the year to September 2010.

The government has pledged to cut it to "tens of thousands" by 2015 but these latest figures show that their attempt to cut down immigration numbers by making significant changes by tightening immigration rules is not making a noticeable difference yet.

"There is evidence that the changes we are making to the rules are starting to have an impact," said the Prime Minister David Cameron's official spokesperson. "It is still our intention to bring the levels of net migration back down to the tens of thousands. Clearly it is going to take some time."

Additionally, less people are emigrating from the UK making it harder to bring down the net migration numbers. Estimated long-term emigration from the country over the past year was 338,000, compared with 345,000 for the year before.

However, the government has reported a decrease in students immigrating to the UK on Tier 4 visas.

"Our tough new rules are now making a real difference with a record 62% drop in student visas in the first quarter of 2012, and overall falls in work visas, family numbers and people settling," said Immigration Minister Damian Green. "As these policies start to bite we are seeing an end to the years when net migration was consistently on the rise. But the hangover from the old system of weak controls means it is still too high and we will continue our programme of reforms to bring net migration down from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands."

Global Visa Support offers a variety of programs in United Kingdom. Please visit our UK page for more information:

Friday, June 15, 2012

Increase in immigrants working on 457 visas in Western Australia

Foreign workers have continued to immigrate to Western Australia on 457 temporary work visas sponsored by construction and mining industry employers in order to address Australia's severe skills shortages. Australian immigration figures show that the number of visas granted for foreign workers going to Western Australia increased by 88 percent to 13,250 in the first 10 months of this financial year. Also, 90 percent of workers immigrating to Western Australia on the 457 visa are managers, professionals or skilled tradespeople, with most going to work in the construction and mining industry.

The biggest source of foreign workers in Western Australia is from the UK, followed by the Philippines, Ireland and the US. Popular occupations include mining engineers, geologists, metal fitters and drillers.

Their has also been a 73 percent growth in the number of 457 visas granted for workers in Queensland, where 9,300 visas have been granted so far this year.

Demand for labour has been stronger in Western Australia as compared to other areas of Australia due to its skills shortages. Most of these available positions in Western Australia are in occupations in the mining or construction industry, however, since they are mostly located in remote places, labour gaps are widening.

Global Visa Support offers a variety of programmes in Australia. Please check our Australian page for more information:

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Canada will continue to process Federal Skilled Worker visa backlog

Earlier this year Canadian immigration announced their plans to stop the processing of Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) visa applications submitted before 27 February 2008 and reject these applications in order to reduce the backlog of visa applications. However, more recently, the immigration department has reportedly instructed its visa officers not to return the applications and continue processing the visas.

As part of Canadian immigration's plan to reduce the backlog of visa applications, the Canadian government announced in March they would be rejecting almost 300,000 Canadian visa applications made before 27 February 2008. Their applications were to be returned and $130 million worth of fees refunded to enable Canadian immigration to reduce the massive backlog they say has been standing in the way of major reform to the immigration system.

At least for now, plans to reject and return the backlog of visa applications will be halted until the Canadian government announces further instructions on how to proceed. The government has already directed Canada embassies not to return the applications and the processing fee and continue processing the applications.

Traditionally, Canada has had a first-in first-out system meaning that visa applicants wait in a queue to have their visa applications processed. Therefore, the decision to reject all of the applications in the backlog received before 27 February 2008 has proved detrimental to applicants who have been waiting for years for their applications to be processed.

Other Canadian immigration options that may be worth considering include the Quebec Skilled Worker (QSW) program or one of the Provincial Nominee programs.

Global Visa Support offers a variety of programs in Canada. Please check our Canadian page for more details:

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

US immigration launches electronic immigration system

US Citizenship and Immigration Services launched the first phase of its electronic immigration system, known as USCIS ELIS. The system was created to modernize and expedite the process for filing and adjudicating immigration applications. This marks the first step in its multi-year plan to shift the immigration department from paper to digital forms.

"We have launched the foundation for the web-based future of our agency and our immigration benefits system. USCIS ELIS will transform how we interact with our customers and how we manage the 6-7 million applications we receive each year," said USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas.

USCIS provides immigration benefits to US visa-holders who are entitled to stay in the US on a temporary or permanent basis, including:

  • granting US citizenship to those who are eligible,
  • authorizing individuals to reside in the US on a permanent basis, and
  • providing immigrants with the eligibility to work in the US.
Eligible visa-holders can now create an online account in the USCIS ELIS system and apply online to extend the duration of their visit to the US or request other changes in their status. Eligible visa-holders include foreign citizens who travel to the US temporarily to study, conduct business, receive medical treatment, or visit on vacation.

The following visa holders can use ELIS to extend their visas: B-1, B-2, F-1, M-1, M-2. You can use ELIS to change your status if you want to receive one of the following visas: B-1 B-2, F-1, F-2, J-1, J-2, M-1, M-2.

Previously immigrants have had to apply for visa extensions by mail, requiring USCIS officers to review paper files and ship documents between offices to complete their processing. This step toward digital forms and processing will help expedite the immigration process. USCIS said that the next steps in implementing the system will add more types of forms to the system, and, once completed, the system will process 6 to 7 million applications online every year.

Additional features of the new system include filing applications and paying fees online, shorter processing times, and the ability to update user profiles, receive notices, and respond to requests electronically. The system also includes tools to combat fraud and identify national security concerns.

Global Visa Support offers a variety of programs in United States. Please check our USA page for more information:

Monday, June 11, 2012

Australian immigration introduces new investor visa

Australia is encouraging wealthy immigrants to move to the country with the announcement of a new visa called the Significant Investor visa. The new visa will grant visas to immigrants who can make an investment of at least AUD$5 million in the Australian economy.

"The significant investor visa will provide a boost to our economy and help Australia to compete effectively for high net worth individuals seeking investment immigration," Australian Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said.

In return for investing in the country, Australian immigration will relax certain visa requirements for investors. In order to be eligible, applicants must:

  • submit an Expression of Interest in SkillSelect,
  • be nominated by a state or territory government, and
  • make an investment of at least AUD$5 million into state or territory government bonds, Australian Secrurities and Investment Commission regulated managed funds with a mandate for investing in Australia and/or direct investment into Australian companies.
"This creates a new source of investment capital and increases the pool of funds managed locally. This is good for jobs and growth in areas such as financial planning, fund administration, stock-broking, accounting and funds management," Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation, Bill Shorten MP said.

The visa is expected to be implemented within the next year. Further details will be available closer to the date of implementation.

Global Visa Support offers a variety of programmes in Australia. Please check our Australian page for more information:

Friday, June 8, 2012

UK immigration to exempt student interns from cooling off period

UK immigration has announced that students who worked as interns in the UK last summer and wish to return to a graduate job with the same company this summer are now temporarily exempt from Tier 2 cooling off rules. The cooling off rules, introduced to Tier 2 (General) this past February, required Tier 2 migrants to wait at least 12 months from the expiration of their previous visa before they may apply for a further Tier 2 visa.

The temporary exemption will apply to all those making applications until 31 October 2012. In order to qualify you must:

  • be sponsored by the same company where you worked as an intern in the summer of 2011;
  • have previously been granted permission under Tier 2 (General) with that company for a temporary job lasting no more than 4 months as an intern or a summer associate;
  • have completed a degree course within 18 months of your application;
  • be returning to the UK on a graduate trainee scheme; and
  • be making a Tier 2 (General) application with a start date on the certificate of sponsorship of 31 October 2012 or before.
Another option for interns is the Tier 5 visa where a number of Tier 5 (Government authorised exchange) schemes are available. If employers are concerned about the impact of the cooling off period on their interns, it is recommended they apply for a Tier 5 visa instead of a Tier 2 visa.

Before you apply under the Tier 5 government authorised exchange category, you must have:

  • a sponsor (the overarching body); and
  • a valid certificate of sponsorship.
You may be allowed to stay in the UK for up to 12 or 24 months under this category, depending on the scheme you are using and the length of time of your work as shown on your certificate of sponsorship.

Global Visa Support offers a variety of programs in United Kingdom. Please visit our UK page for more information:

Thursday, June 7, 2012

4.5 million people have become Australian citizens since 1949

Australian Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Chris Bowen announced this month that 4.5 million people have gained Australian citizenship since the first citizenship ceremony in 1949.

Bowen said that reaching the 4.5 million mark was a significant milestone. He noted that the 4.5 million people who have become Australian citizens have come from more than 200 countries.

"The first seven people to become Australian citizens in 1949 came from Spain, Greece, Denmark, Czechoslovakia, Norway, France, and Yugoslavia," he said. "Since then, in the 1970s we saw a rise in citizenship for people from Italy, Greece and Lebanon, a steady stream of British-born citizens, and more recently people from China, New Zealand, India, Vietnam and South Africa becoming citizens."

Prior to 1949, when legislation was introduced formally identifying people as Australians, most people in Australia were considered British subjects.

In 2010-11, nearly 100,000 people received Australian citizenship. In 2007, the country reached another milestone with four million people becoming Australian citizens.

"Citizenship is the bond that holds our culturally diverse population together. This milestone also serves as a reminder of the role citizenship plays in building a strong and unified Australia," Bowen said. "Australian citizenship is unique. It carries responsibilities and grants privileges. It represents commitment to our country, to our people and to the values we all share."

Global Visa Support offers a variety of programmes in Australia. Please check our Australian page for more information:

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

UK immigration to require tuberculosis screening for some UK visa applicants

The UK Home Office announced that immigrants from countries with a high incidence of tuberculosis (TB) will soon be required to be screened for the disease before being approved for a UK visa.

UK Immigration minister Damian Green confirmed the new measures on 21 May saying: "Tuberculosis is currently at its highest level in the UK for 30 years and it's essential that we take action to tackle its continued rise." Ministers claimed that testing applicants prior to arrival in the UK will save the country more than £40 million over the next ten years.

Under the new rules, immigrants from 67 countries with high TB rates who wish to enter the UK for more than six months will be required to undergo pre-entry screening, followed by treatment if required. The high TB incidence countries were identified by the World Health Organisation and include China, India, Morocco, Nepal and South Africa.

Green said that the costs of screening and possible subsequent treatment will be paid for by the visa applicants. The scheme will be implemented in three phases over an 18 month period.

"Pre-entry screening, followed by treatment where necessary, will help to prevent the risk of TB in the UK and will also save lives," said Green. "Removing screening facilities at airports will save the taxpayer £25 million over 10 years and further NHS savings will be made by preventing the importation and spread of TB in the UK."

According to the UK Home Office, there has been a 5 percent increase in cases of TB in the country in 2011, with an additional 9,000 cases compared with 2010. They claim that research shows that those born outside of the UK account for three quarters of all new cases of TB diagnosed in the UK.

Global Visa Support offers a variety of programs in United Kingdom. Please visit our UK page for more information:

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Australian visa health restrictions to be relaxed

From 1 July, the Australian government is set to relax immigration laws which will lead to the admission of more immigrants with disabilities and a pre-existing medical conditions. Australian immigration has what is called a significant cost threshold to decide whether or not an immigrant with disabilities or an illness will be too much of a burden on the Australian health system. If the projected cost of treating a prospective immigrant will be greater than the significant cost threshold currently AUD$21,000 over five years the immigrant will not be granted the visa. From 1 July 2012 the significant costs threshold will be increased to AUD$35,000, therefore making it easier for immigrants to gain entry to Australia.

More than one in 10 people are on immigration blacklists because of health concerns, and research has shown that this has more to do with financial issues than health risks to Australians.

In 2010-11, of the 599 foreigners who were denied a visa on health grounds following health examinations, 392 were denied due to the cost of their potential treatment or due to the fact that they may potentially stand in the way of Australians awaiting medical care. Under current rules, an applicant can have their visa application rejected if the cost of any potential treatment they may need exceeds the threshold of AUD$21,000 over five years, or three years for applicants aged 75 or over.

People with HIV, a heart condition or cancer have been blocked from entering Australia, as well as those with epilepsy, a mental illness or mental retardation.

This AUD$21,000 Significant Cost Threshold has remained unchanged for ten years, however stakeholders have continued to push for health requirement reforms. This prompted the immigration department to conduct an external review of the requirements and the review recommended that the department increase the threshold.

The parliamentary committee, chaired by Labor MP Michael Danby, said the current process should be reformed as it reflected "old-fashioned approaches to disability in particular".

Global Visa Support offers a variety of programs in Australia. Please visit our Australian page for more information:

Monday, June 4, 2012

Canada phasing out Social Insurance Number cards for immigrants and citizens

The Canadian government announced they are phasing out the plastic Social Insurance Number (SIN) card issued to millions of Canadians and others in order to save money and help avoid identity theft.

All Canadian citizens, temporary and permanent residents need a SIN to work in Canada or to receive benefits and services from government programs. The nine-digit number is necessary for people to have access to government programs and benefits. It is also the number used by government officials to track the income and taxes owed by an individual.

From March 2014, Canadian citizens and immigrants who receive a new social insurance number will receive a letter from the Canadian government identifying their SIN, but they will not receive a plastic card.

"Along with better protecting Canadians' personal information, this responsible approach will also save taxpayers' hard-earned money by not producing physical cards and replacements," said Human Resources Minister Diane Finley spokeswoman Alyson Queen.

The government has warned that card-holders are at risk of having their identity stolen or being exposed to fraudulent activity if they lose their SIN card. The plastic SIN card has no security features, unlike many other cards such as driver's licenses or credit cards.

"As everyone here knows, it is a simple plastic card. There are no security mechanisms on it, so relying on it as a mechanism for identifying clients is not prudent," said Peter Boyd, director general and departmental security officer in Human Resources and Skills Development Canada.

Global Visa Support offers a variety of programs in Canada. Please visit our Canadian page for more information:

Friday, June 1, 2012

Decrease in number of New Zealand visas issued

New figures released by New Zealand's Department of Labour show that the number of skilled migrants arriving to the country is decreasing. The figures show that the number of people who arrived in the nine months to March 2012 was 13,265, a decrease of about 12 percent compared to the same nine month period in the previous year. The department attributed the decrease due to the global recession.

The country's biggest sources of skilled migrants are the UK and India, each providing 17 percent of the total, followed by the Philippines with 12 percent, China and South Africa at 8 percent each, and Fiji with 7 percent.

There was an increase in Indians applying for skilled migrant visas and the department said: "The increase from India is mainly due to former Indian international students who transition to temporary work and then to permanent residence."

Additionally, the number of international students studying in New Zealand on visas was down 7 percent compared to the same nine month period in 2011. The largest source country for international students is currently China at 26 percent of the total, followed by India at 13 percent, South Korea at 10 percent, and Japan with 5 percent.

The department also said that the numbers of people being approved for New Zealand residency remains steady with 28,674 in the July 2011-March 2012 period, compared to 28,695 for the same period during the previous year.

Global Visa Support offers a variety of programs for New Zealand. Please visit our New Zealand page for more information: